EFF Calls Government's American Traveler Program 'Invasive' - InformationWeek

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12/1/2006
05:07 PM
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EFF Calls Government's American Traveler Program 'Invasive'

The government plans to collect and analyze personal information to determine whether travelers are likely to be criminals or terrorists.

Privacy activists are trying to stop a new Department of Homeland Security program to create and assign risk assessments of American travelers.

The government filed a notice in the Federal Register in November indicating that computer systems will track information -- from motor vehicle records, payment methods and travel patterns -- to determine whether travelers are likely to be criminals or terrorists. The Automated Targeting System will track information on individuals entering and leaving the United States.

The government will maintain the information up to 40 years and make it available to various government agencies, contractors, grantees, and consultants. DHS maintains that the system is necessary for maintaining national security and preventing terrorist attacks.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said people would have no way to get details about their risk assessment scores or correct false information. The group has requested a delay in the program's start and submitted a request for more details under the Freedom of Information Act. EFF has said ATS may be the government's most invasive and unprecedented data-mining system.

DHS released a privacy impact assessment on the ATS program last week, stating that border officers would review information before deciding whether a person can enter or leave the country. It also said that there would be several other privacy controls, including the use of passwords and IT training to ensure the security of the data.

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